Lungfish – A.C.R 1999 (less a review than an angry letter to Pitchfork)

A.C.R 1999
Dischord Records

The following rant is a letter I wrote in response to Pitchfork regarding their review of this album. It’s not my best work, nor the review I wanted to write for this record. It’s not my best work because I was really upset when I wrote this. I could expand on this for HOURS and HOURS, but any regular readers I have already hate me, I’m not in the mood, nor do I have the energy to get in too many more fights. I am presenting it here more for historical rather than editorial purposes. As I noted, I was once blocked from sending further emails to the editor because I got in a fight with him about The Pupils album review. I also sent nasty letters in defense of Lungfish and Q and Not U then too that mimic the tone of this. Unfortunately I sent them from an email address I no longer have access to. So I wanted to keep this for posterity reasons. If a response is made and I see it, I will post it too. But I doubt it will, because they are  bunch of cowards at Pitchfork.

Editor in Chief Ryan Schreiber once blocked me for lambasting your moronic site over a review of The Pupils, a band that consisted of Dan Higgs and Asa Osbourne of Lungfish. He actually blocked my emails from commenting on work done at Pitchfork. That action by Mr. Sensitive is the reason I don’t wonder why Pitchfork doesn’t have comments sections on the site. Because he is afraid of having the content picked apart by people who might actually know more about the music the site covers then the hand-picked hipsters he has writing for him. Marc Master’s review of the new Lungfish release is deplorable. It’s clear to me that he has never really listened to Lungfish, nor devoted himself to the band the way hundreds of us, mostly from Washington DC and Baltimore, have. Falling for the impulse to compare ACR 1999 to the later recorded and released Necrophones is the kind of failure one would expect from a journalist who only reads one sheets. I wonder if he even owned any Lungfish albums prior to being assigned ACR for review.

Having seen Lungfish no less than 15 times between 1996 and 2005 and the band never broke a sweat, but for one time at the Black Cat when the lights beat relentlessly on Dan Higgs balding head. The reason this never happened, is because this band was a fucking machine, more intent on meditation than ripping off faces. They didn’t destroy audiences, they transported them. They SILENCED them, not through the visceral violence of rock buffoonery, but through the cutting wall of sound that swept people away. They stood back (Higgs aside, who is a mad man) and let the music do the talking. Marc, clearly did not get the opportunity to see them, or else he would know this. 

I haven’t personally listened to Necrophones since ACR arrived at my door. But I remember that album completely. It is their Adult Contemporary Lungfish style album, and it’s really great the way they played with their own sonic elements and vocabulary the way only Lungfish could. And while the songs on ACR later recorded on Necrophones are familiar, they are essentially different songs. The blueprints evolved and were remade in a way only Lungfish could have done. What Marc fails to understand is that you don’t divide the Lungfish discography by comparing and contrasting, you take it in and absorb it as a whole. Because it is one, long, beautiful narrative. ACR is less an album than a sketch book. And I can assure you many of these sketch books exist in the archives of Ian Mackaye’s Arlington home. I know, because he told me. He told me because he could see in me that like himself, I was a devotee, that I understood, that I was forever changed in a scary way, by the band Lungfish. ACR is not cannon, it is a building block. And as with everything Lungfish did, it’s better than ANYTHING anyone or any weak ass band has ever done. 

So please, STOP. Not just poorly reviewing the music of Osborurne and Higgs, et al. But stop publishing anything. It’s clear you haven’t learned since The Pupils record how to actually write about music, a daunting and difficult task to be sure. But you have FAILED. Time and time again, you have failed to understand the power of music. Not just of Lungfish, but of anyone. You treat it like a commodity with some kind of cultural value, but you FAIL to see its true power, it’s true meaning. For that, you should be ashamed.

Bandcamp Alert #2 – Beke Dragoste

Kitsch art is not something I always enjoy. It’s often people making music or art or theater to poke fun at  stereotypes. And in the case of Beke Dragoste, that element exists in a sense. The band’s male member have been known to grow mustaches of an eastern European style when they would play in Albuquerque. Further, they would dawn gold chains, white tank tops and Adidas work out suits all in an attempt to be a Gypsy Punk Band. But Albuquerque, in all it’s weirdness has such an odd, displaced punk scene, that any thing that tries is worth paying attention to.

Apparently, Beke Dragoste is calling it quits after a long hiatus in June according to an email I received from drummer Nyet Nyet Dragoste. This is  bummer, because Duke City could really use this band. Humor is a hard sell and Beke Dragoste seems to have enough humility in what they are doing that they pull it off. Or maybe they are a bunch of assholes who just want to take the stereotypes of the gypsy culture and make music about it. There just won’t be enough time to tell at this point since they are calling it a day in June, before even really having an opportunity to take hold of Albuquerque, like just about every other band I’ve heard of from here (does NOISEAR even play in town?).

The good, you can download a 6 track EP off band camp for free. Their one and only offering is called Peace, Love and Water and it’s full of laughs, low fi recordings and nice roomy drum hits. Fans of Gogo Bordello with a sense of humor might be into this, but really, if you just like to crack a smile and realize the world doesn’t have to always be so serious, just pick it up for the nice price of free.